Curly Maple Bowl and Tray
It's crafted from 520-year-old curly maple.

SHOP OWNER: Earl Sheppard
Bedford, PA

    This was a birthday gift I made for my daughter-in-law. I hope she enjoys having it as much as I enjoyed making it.
    The old wood I used for this project is from a 520-year-old maple I cut down, milled, and air-dried a number of years ago. The tree was from the next valley over the hill with only Northern exposure and adjacent to a small stream. The tree never got much direct sunlight, but always had enough to eat, being next to the stream. It grew very slowly. It started growing about the time Columbus hit the shore of this continent.
Curly Maple Bowl and Tray
    The little tray and bowl is natural mineral stained curly maple. I used a router with a box core bit for initial core cuts and a hand-held ribbon sander for the rough shaping. The final detailing was done by hand.
    When I'm creating, I have what some people call O.C.D., but I contend that I'm O.C.A. (the obsessive compulsive advantage). I find that a good acronym for people who bother to pay attention to details.
    The finish is a heat-infused exterior satin urethane. I heat the project up to 150 degrees, thin the polyurethane 20%, and apply it continuously while the wood is cooling off. This causes the wood to absorb the finish deep into it. All the finish is rubbed off the surface using an absorbent rag dampened with paint thinner. The finish is in the wood, not on it. After the first coat is dry, I use a Scotch-Brite pad to dull all surfaces, heat it up again, and do a thin spray for a final coat.
Curly Maple Bowl and Tray
    The knob (iron pyrite) on the little lid for the bowl is both gaudy & foolish. I used a Dremel and diamond bit to make a hole in the knob, and then countersunk a screw through the lid into the knob secured with 2-ton epoxy. The screw head was plugged with matching maple.
Curly Maple Bowl and Tray
    The neat little secret here is what keeps the bowl from sliding off the tray. I embedded two small (5/16"diameter by 1/8"thick) neodymium grade-52 magnets in the bottom of the tray and two more in the bottom of the little bowl. I then used maple plugs to cover them. The bowl (without the lid) will sit on the tray even when the tray is turned upside down. None of the magnets, which are plugged over, show from the normal view. The magnets have a pull force of 4.2 pounds when touching, but that drops to about 12 oz. for each set with the wood separation from being hidden.
. . . Earl Sheppard


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